This book turned around rapidly within 50 pages. Maybe that's not enough to warrant the slog through the first 400 pages, but the last 500 flew by. I...moreThis book turned around rapidly within 50 pages. Maybe that's not enough to warrant the slog through the first 400 pages, but the last 500 flew by. I adored Sugar, and other characters who were just tiresome in the beginning blossomed from mere caricatures to complex people I enjoyed. Instead of groaning upon coming upon their chapters, I continued with relish.(less)
I made my peace with this one early on. A rare thing to do, usually when a collection of short stories doesn't click with me, it goes progressively do...moreI made my peace with this one early on. A rare thing to do, usually when a collection of short stories doesn't click with me, it goes progressively downhill with each story. "Like You'd Understand, Anyway" is an apt title - there is much I didn't understand here of these lives in what is a pretty wide ranging collection. Shepard thinks big, placing the reader in some rather impressive settings - a family at the epicenter of Chernobyl, the executioner of Louis the XVI and Marie Antoinette, a Nazi researching his life's work in the Tibetan himalayas - the Yeti. One of my favorite stories featured Lituya Bay in Alaska. Against the backdrop of a couple's marital troubles, it was an interesting way to learn about this tidal wave prone bay (due to its shape, apparently) and the highest recorded tidal wave in history (1958).
To some extent, Shepard fulfills my desire to see another world in a microcosm through the lens of the short story. Often, to my chagrin, I felt like he was just throwing facts out in a laundry list rather than weaving them artfully into the story as a whole. But once I reoriented myself to pay attention to the settings he was introducing me to it helped me to settle in and take them for what they were. I was a lot less impressed with his portrayal of characters and relationships, (like I'd understand, anyway!) only one story really made me feel invested in the main character.(less)
I read this in middle school when I went on a horror book bender to see if any book could actually scare me. We had this around the house, so I figure...moreI read this in middle school when I went on a horror book bender to see if any book could actually scare me. We had this around the house, so I figured I'd give it a try. I'm sure it started out suspenseful and somewhat interesting, but when the predator was revealed it may as well have turned into a comedy. And goodness, heavy on the allegory much?? To this day I still remember the key symbolism Peretti used - just because I found it so ridiculous! The author is a Christian. He has a message. I wasn't sure what I disagreed with more - his message, or his silly delivery of it.
And I still don't believe I'll ever find a book that will scare me. Horror books can be so heavy handed with the gore or just seem plain ridiculous to me - I prefer to be chilled and spooked, but haven't found anything (fiction) that has done so yet. Please feel free to submit suggestions!!(less)
I began reading this because the pickings are slim around here and I have a slight obsession with articles about cold cases. Well, maybe more than sli...moreI began reading this because the pickings are slim around here and I have a slight obsession with articles about cold cases. Well, maybe more than slight. The details of the crime were just as horrible (Actually, moreso with how in depth you learn about what someone did to her - it's hard to fathom such brutality towards a child and very disturbing to read.) as I had thought I remembered, having been a teenager at the time and not really following it but absorbing the media frenzy anyway. To some extent it was interesting to chew on all the conflicting evidence. On the other hand I feel like there was so much information that probably didn't need to be in the book. Painstaking details about conflicts between investigators and all sorts of day to day stuff - the conflicts are important to understand the case, but like I said - painstaking. Much of the details and evidence are also repeated multiple times. I liked to read people's experiences with Jonbenet (though they were only a very small part of this mammoth book) as the salacious 'beauty queen' angle is such an obsession with the media. It made me ill and infuriated when early on in the book a reporter is quoted describing the case as 'SEXY' when this angle is discovered.(less)
Given this received such overwhelmingly positive feedback I decided to take a chance with the series when someone offered to bring a few books for me...moreGiven this received such overwhelmingly positive feedback I decided to take a chance with the series when someone offered to bring a few books for me from the US on their trip to Peru!! I am somewhat underwhelmed. I don't think it lived up to the hype, but I'm biased. This was billed as the 'anti-epic' fantasy. Truth be told, I love epic fantasy - the more characters and plots and pages, the better. Which isn't to say I automatically dislike books that don't fit into this mold (See Jacqueline Carey's Banewreaker) but I feel there is a lack of depth in this one.
I liked the premise and most of the plot. At times this tread uncomfortably close to being a bodice ripper and the progression of the relationships between characters irritated me. Personally I found it unbelievable and I think one of the greatest things about fantasy is taking something unbelievable and convincing me through the writing that it's a possibility. Jemisin didn't achieve that for me. It was some decent, quick reading and I'll read the rest of them. In addition, I'll probably read Jemisin's work in the future. I like the different world she created and I'm hoping with some experience her books will have more heft (depth-wise of the characters, not necessarily pages!).(less)
All my issues with the first book have been resolved with this one. The main character is fantastic, a lot of depth and I really enjoyed getting to kn...moreAll my issues with the first book have been resolved with this one. The main character is fantastic, a lot of depth and I really enjoyed getting to know her and the cast of accompanying characters. Rather than silly, unrealistic romance of the near bodice ripper type this book features intriguing, realistic relationships. Even the added background to much of what one learns in the first book gives everything a lot more depth. This actually reminded me of Charles De Lint's urban fantasy work but without some of the weaker characteristics of his writing. I really like the whole premise of more fantastic beings mingling with people as they go about their everyday lives and I like how Jemisin accomplished this here even though it's still a fantasy setting. Overall, a highly recommended book.(less)
4.5 - One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that aims to illuminate something through sociological methods. I lopped off half a star becaus...more4.5 - One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read that aims to illuminate something through sociological methods. I lopped off half a star because much of the first half of the book can feel like one is reading a laundry list of opinions from women with citations as to where you can find their full story in the book. Lots and lots of 'Deena, 18 year old mother of 2 children ages four and six (covered in chapter 4) thinks......' I feel like the book probably could have been organized better in that regard but as you get farther the narrative is a lot less chopped up in that manner and you get larger parts of the stories.
Regardless, it doesn´t invalidate the importance of the opinions and life stories of the women and the incredible set of values and beliefs held by them. I learned A LOT - Edin and Kefalas completely smash the stereotypes about poor teenage and unwed mothers that those of us in the middle and upper class brackets just seem to take for granted despite never even having known or interacted with them. It also completely revealed that my own opinion of 'they just need to know about or be able to afford birth control' and everything will be hunky dory, a-ok, was an utterly ridiculous, uninformed assumption on my part that invalidates much of their life experiences.
This was also the perfect accompaniment to Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx, which I loved, but also felt incredibly frustrated because I didn't understand WHY things I took for granted in terms of the way my life should go didn't seem to be the same for those profiled in the book. Trying to keep in perspective that they led lives so much harder and so much different than mine didn't always help, but Edin and Kefalas illuminate the thought processes.
I hope to give a more in depth review in the future, but my internet time is limited at the moment.(less)
I feel like I've read a string of books in the past few months that haven't lived up to the hype of the words of praise across their covers or their a...moreI feel like I've read a string of books in the past few months that haven't lived up to the hype of the words of praise across their covers or their award/shortlisted status. I picked this up at a library sale - I'd seen it a few times but for some reason I always came away thinking it was fiction. Desperation for something to read made me more careful about my selection this time around.
My stomach clenched for the first 30 pages or so - incredibly depressing, stunning stuff and I figured this would be just another one of those disappointments but resolved to read it anyway. I assumed I would come away feeling so emotionally exhausted and miserable by the end as I seem to have a really low tolerance for depressing things these days. Instead, by page fifty I was completely absorbed by the women in the book, holding onto a precarious hope that things would get better for them and amazed by their tenacity. I brought the book home Friday and I haven't been able to put it down since - Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were a frustration given I could barely keep my nose out of it but risked being rude as I stole moments to read here and there.(less)